Persistent tensions arising from the exploration-exploitation paradox continuously threaten the accomplishment of organizational ambidexterity. Structural, contextual and sequential solutions designed to alleviate these tensions dominate the ambidexterity literature. None of these adequately explains how top executives implement tension-alleviating managerial initiatives or how they respond in real time to tension-induced organizational perturbations. In this paper, through analysis of top management team (TMT) speeches at Procter & Gamble over a 15-year period, we show how the construction and communication of four innovation narratives – contextualizing, mutualizing, dramatizing and focalizing – reduced tensions and enhanced organizational ambidexterity. We demonstrate the importance of TMT reflexivity in devising and communicating performative narratives, illustrate the polyphonic model of narrative strategizing, and present a cyclical model suggesting that the accomplishment of organizational ambidexterity is an ongoing dynamic process.
- Exploration-exploitation paradox, innovation narratives, top management team (TMT), organizational ambidexterity, polyphonic narration